College Graduate Mackenzie Fierceton Awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Rhodes Scholar Mackenzie Fierceton, C'20

Mackenzie Fierceton, who graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in May, has been awarded a 2021 Rhodes Scholarship for graduate study at the University of Oxford. Fierceton, from St. Louis, is currently completing her clinical master’s degree after submatriculating into the Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice program in 2018.

“We are extremely proud of Penn’s newest Rhodes Scholar. Committed to research and advocacy to make a positive impact in the world, Mackenzie is so deserving of this prestigious opportunity to build upon her Penn education and experience,” said President Amy Gutmann. “As a first-generation low-income student and a former foster youth, Mackenzie is passionate about championing young people in those communities through her academic, professional, and personal endeavors, dedicating herself to a life of public service.”

The highly competitive Rhodes is one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world. The scholarships provide all expenses for up to four years of study at Oxford in England. Fierceton is one of the 32 American Rhodes Scholars chosen to represent the United States, from an initial pool of 2,300 students.

As a former foster youth, and queer first-generation low-income student, Fierceton works to uplift the voices of her communities through her academic, professional, and personal pursuits, including her capstone political science thesis on the foster care-to-prison pipeline and her youth-centered community organizing work.

Fierceton is a Civic Scholar and has served as a leader within the Civic House community throughout her Penn career with a commitment to civic engagement, social justice, and service. Outside Penn, she is a policy fellow for Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym, and she is a volunteer birthing doula with the Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support.

At Oxford, Fierceton plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree in social policy. Upon returning to Philadelphia, she intends to continue her career in public service.

Fierceton applied for the Rhodes Scholarship with assistance from Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. The award brings the number of Penn Rhodes Scholars to 31 since the scholarship’s inception in 1902.


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